Pursuing a degree in the youth ministry field can allow students to make a positive difference in the lives of children and adolescents. Professionals in this field can offer spiritual counseling in a wide range of environments that include religious organizations, educational institutions and community support providers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, youth ministry positions fall into the general category of social and community service management and typically require a bachelor's degree.
Here are five challenging careers in the youth ministry field.
Community Services Director
Applicants with a degree in youth ministry are often in demand in the faith-based community service sector. These dedicated professionals may be tasked with providing counseling for at-risk youth or creating outreach programs to address needs throughout the service area. Strong organizational skills are a must for success in these positions; community service directors and managers may be required to plan budgets and to hire, train and supervise other staff members. Grant writing experience and a solid background in child and adolescent development may also be helpful for students interested in pursuing a career in this field.
Training and inspiring young athletes in the religious education or community outreach setting can offer real challenges and rewards for graduates with a degree in youth ministry. By providing spiritual support and encouragement for teens while teaching them the fundamentals of team sports, athletic coaches can lead by example. Instilling the values of good sportsmanship, cooperation and healthy competition can provide valuable structure for adolescents in educational and extracurricular environments. The same principles may be applicable in fields other than athletics; for example, trained coaches are also qualified to provide small group instruction in religious tenets. A master's degree is recommended for students interested in this career path.
Depending on the institution, a bachelor's or master's degree may be needed to serve as a school counselor in faith-based educational environments. By adding a spiritual element to the standard tools used by counselors in secular middle and high school settings, youth ministers can often provide added help to those struggling with the challenges of adolescence and the adjustment disorders that often accompany this time of life. By offering faith-based solutions to school and social issues, school counselors with backgrounds in theology can offer practical answers and spiritual support for teens as they navigate crises at school and at home.
Youth ministries are vital parts of many urban and rural churches. Taking on a role as a key administrator in these religious organizations can offer meaningful challenges for graduates with relevant degrees. This is perhaps the most straightforward career path for students with bachelor's or master's degrees in youth ministry. Tasks typically include planning activities for children and teens, designing a faith-based curriculum for youth and managing all aspects of the programs offered to children and teens in the religious setting. Successful youth ministry administrators are typically detail-oriented and possess a strong background in theological studies and adolescent psychology.
Missionaries perform valuable work in the United States and abroad to share their faith and to provide support for those in need. These dedicated individuals may be called upon to provide spiritual support in urban areas or to assist in building key infrastructure in remote areas of the world. In some cases, missionary activities may be recommended or required by the church or religious organization to which the individual belongs. Some missionary jobs are unpaid; however, basic expenses are usually covered by the sponsor church. Experience in this field can prove useful for those interested in pursuing a career in faith-based counseling or ministry.
Money is usually not the primary motivator for students pursuing a degree in youth ministry. However, these careers can offer solid compensation along with the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of young people. By pursuing these opportunities, aspiring youth ministers can have a real impact close to home and all around the world.